Oxonian set to co-host PRI's 'Whad'ya Know?'

By Errol Castens / Daily Journal Oxford Bureau

OXFORD – To anyone who heard her interviewed live on the air when public radio’s Michael Feldman brought quiz show “Whad’ya Know?” to Oxford in 2008, it came as no surprise that Kaye Bryant is now officially Feldman’s Biggest Fan.
The lifelong Oxonian made her second appearance Saturday on the show by phone to accept the title.
“I’m so excited, I can’t stand it,” she said in the drawl that was part of her charm for Wisconsinite Feldman.
Feldman had just read several entries that had tried – perhaps too successfully – to mirror his understated approach to humor. Bryant is never understated.
“You were the only one who was excited about it, so you kind of won by default,” he told Bryant.
“I am definitely your biggest fan, hands down,” she replied. “It’s the biggest news in Oxford, Miss., right now.”
As Feldman’s Biggest Fan, Bryant will fly to the show’s home in Madison, Wis., to co-host the Aug. 13 Giant Jubilee Celebration to mark its 25th year on the air. The show will air Aug. 14 and 15.
It was Bryant’s offbeat sense of humor that first branded her into the minds of the “Whad’ya Know?” audience. Feldman routinely takes questions from audience members, interviewing on-air those folks with the most intriguing queries.
Bryant, who turned 70 the day Feldman came to Oxford, asked, “Would you like to interview a 70-year-old former hooker?”
Feldman, whose stock in trade is repartee, took the bait. The laugh was on him, however, when Bryant explained that her maiden name was Hooker.
She went on to say she had never realized the “other” connotation of the name until she was 15, when a local civic club gave out reflective safety tape for children’s bicycles.
Since she already had a car, she used her tape to spell out her last name on the back of her car “in Day-Glo orange.”
“It took some boys coming up beside us to explain what it meant,” she said.
Already, Bryant is putting together a basket of Oxford-specific gifts for Feldman.
“I’ve got signed copies of Ace Atkins’ and Neil White’s books,” she said. “I’ll take something from Ole Miss, and a T-shirt from Taylor Grocery, because (owner) Lynn Hewlitt was on the show that day.”
Feldman told Bryant on the air Saturday that her plethora of prizes would include a loving cup.
“I can take that back home on the plane,” she said, “and everyone will know I’m your Biggest Fan.”
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@djouranl.com.